Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Cheeto-In-Chief Trump Threatens To Pull Puerto Rico Relief Efforts


Prior to the hurricane, Puerto Rico was already struggling with $72 billion in debt, a flight of residents to the USA mainland and aging infrastructure, including a decrepit power grid that was incapacitated by the storm.

Trump criticized the USA territory in a series of tweets Thursday. Most of the island still lacks electric power and there is limited access to health care and other basic needs.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, which has a sizeable Puerto Rican community, told Reuters he had urged Trump to create a high-level task force to provide advice for rebuilding Puerto Rico, and that the president was receptive to the idea.

"We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been awesome (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!", Trump tweeted, in one of a series of morning posts expressing frustration with the situation in the USA territory of 3.4 million people.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency can (and does) stay involved in disaster relief for years after major catastrophes. He said there was no current plan to withdraw troops who are supporting FEMA's recovery efforts. The spokesman said the agency aims to foster recoveries that are as swift as possible and that the length of their support varies based on the circumstances of each natural disaster. Reassuring the island, Kelly said the U.S. will "stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done". It has killed at least 45 people, and about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity.

Hurricane Maria struck September 20.

"I don't think there's going to be a federal bailout in which billions of dollars are spent to bail out Puerto Rico".

"Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making." says Sharyl Attkisson.

Democratic Representative Nydia Velazquez of NY, which has a large Puerto Rican community, chastised Trump.

Ryan said he didn't know about Trump's tweets.

Trump "is simply incapable of understanding the contributions, the sacrifices and the commitment to democratic values that Puerto Ricans have shown over decades", San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said in a lengthy statement. The remark came in a statement distributed by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) to reporters.

Trump's latest outburst immediately touched off criticism. In an afternoon interview with MSNBC, Padilla said, "He is showing off that he is just racist". "It is not that you do not get it, it is that you are incapable of empathy and frankly simply can not get the job done".

Some $16 billion would go to help the National Flood Insurance Program cover claims after reaching its borrowing limit.

Many others have been without housing and basic necessities. Senate approval is expected in coming weeks.

"Today, we must act quickly to ensure that the federal government is able to fulfill its duty to the millions of Americans in need", Frelinghuysen said on the House floor. On Tuesday, the fund contained $6.72 billion. Of that, $4.9 billion is earmarked for loans to local governments to ensure Puerto Rico can keep government programs operating beyond October 31.

The governor's office did not respond to queries about the total amount of aid requested, which is now equivalent to around half of Puerto Rico's debt of some US$73 billion.

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